Don’t get stressed by your pre-bed routine

Q:  I have a very rigid routine before bed that usually helps me sleep better.  Problem is, I’m so locked into this routine I’m afraid if I vary one iota I’ll have a horrible night.  Will I ever reach the point where I can travel or go to late night social events again and not disrupt my sleep?

A:  Short answer:  Yes, there’s a very good chance you can strengthen your sleep system to the point where you can be more flexible with your pre-bed routine.

Prebed sleep routines are important providing they are relaxing and help you transition to a rested state conducive to falling asleep.  However, if and when they get to the point you feel rigidly compelled to follow them — and getting out of line causes you stress — then the idea has backfired.

So no, you shouldn’t feel compelled to do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way every night.  Moreover, the positive stimulation of travel and social interaction at evening parties can help tire you out so you sleep better.  Such mental stimulation is an important part of overall good health.

To help you feel less locked in to your routine, you might begin by making very small changes now and then, just to add some variety.  This will help prove you can still sleep well even when you venture outside the boundaries of your normal routine.  Then you can with more confidence add in larger changes incrementally.

As you’ve discovered, a relaxing pre-bed routine is an important part of good overall sleep hygiene, and represents one of many proactive behaviors you can control to in effect “stack the deck” in your favor for better sleep.  Setting and keeping a consistent sleep schedule, minimizing negative sleep thoughts, controlling stress, and managing anxiety are all part of a comprehensive strategy to counter insomnia and improve sleep.

By diligently practicing these methods with time and patience, your sleep system will strengthen to the point where even if you travel or go to a party and disrupt your normal routine, the result will not be horrible.  By increasing your confidence in your sleeping ability, insomnia tends to diminish.  So even if you significantly vary your routine and your night is somewhat disrupted, it’s easier to respond with a “so what?”  You can let the worry go with the idea that you’ll sleep better the following night.

Explore posts in the same categories: Insomnia, sleep, stress

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One Comment on “Don’t get stressed by your pre-bed routine”

  1. […] something you probably can and should try to control.  On Sunday nights you might try an extended wind-down period of relaxation to prepare for sleep, an hour or more might be reasonable.  A relaxing bath or soak, […]

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